Mrs Becher's Diary


Penny Bank, Slate Club, Mrs Spicer

The Penny Bank & the Slate Club were almost inseparable institutions. Originally a coal club had been started by Mr Ashley Spencer, (the Vicar) & this had gradually developed into the Penny Bank. When we came to Tylers Green in 1915 this was being carried on by Col Becher. Every Monday evening from 5-6, he went to the Parish Room laden with his huge ledgers & specially printed cards which cost a small fortune & which he paid for from his own purse. Interest was paid on the credit a/cs. Latterly the sale of War Saving Certificates had been part of the business. On Col Becher’s retirement, I took over the work & a few years later the Vicar, (now Rev Gerald Hayward) started a Parish Slate Club. Such clubs existed at most of the public houses, but only men were eligible & the paying of the weekly subscription meant the spending of money on drinks. A strong Church Committee was formed & women were eligible for membership on equal terms with men. Subscriptions were payable at the Parish Room from 6-7 p.m. The money was in many cases sent by the children who paid their savings into the Penny Bank at the same time. Gradually it was convenient to have the same time for both Clubs 5.30-7 p.m.

One evening, just after we opened, Mrs Long was attending to one or two customers & I was sitting idle. Mrs Spicer, (wife of Danger Spicer), came in, put down her basket & handed up her card. There was a £1 worth of silver in the bowl. Suddenly I saw her stretch out her arm, & seizing the money out of the bowl began to empty it into her bag. Mr Long rose to his feet, retrieved the coins and ordered her out of the Room.

There seemed likely to be a fight & I could not stand by and see a woman roughly handled by a man, so I hastily intervened. It was obvious that the woman was having a brain storm & was temporarily out of her mind – her face was scarlet and her eyes were curiously bright – I took her arm and firmly told her that she had left her umbrella up at my house & we must go and fetch it. After some hesitation I persuaded her to come with me.  Mr Long had a dangerous look on his face & was covering the money bowls like a man guarding a priceless treasure from a crafty enemy. Thinking that I might have trouble with her, I signalled to a man to follow us up the road – I kept telling her about her umbrella which we were going to fetch & she came with me quite quietly to Pitlundie, the storm had passed and she accepted the offer of a car ride home & seemed to be herself once more.